Saturday, November 10, 2012

Memorable Moments From Mid-Service

From November 6th through November 8th I was at my Mid-Service Conference at Ridar Hotel.  One of the most memorable moments for me was sitting in the lounge area by the pool (which had a large flatscreen tv) and watching live election coverage (on CNN).  It was a surreal experience to be in Uganda and see the US election results and Obama's acceptance speech (midnight in Chicago is 9:00am here) - after living abroad and witnessing other political "elections", I felt very proud of my country and thankful that I have the right to vote.  And on the bus ride back to Arua, the man sitting next to me thanked me for electing Obama again.  :)  The choices we make truly affect others around world.

One of the conference sessions about "what to do after the end of our service" and was given by a few Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  They talked briefly about their different types of jobs (US Embassy, public health work in South Sudan, foreign service, etc.), but what they all said without hesitation was GRAD SCHOOL!  While the Peace Corps experience is great to have on the resume, the type of international jobs (and global health work) available requires a Master's Degree.  It just reaffirmed my thought that I'll be going back to school when I return to the US.

We have a committee called the Volunteer Action Committee (VAC), who meet with Peace Corps administration to discuss concerns from PCVs.  It's one of the only ways for us (volunteers) to openly talk about policies, challenges, etc. with the admin staff.  I volunteered to be a new representative for my training group (after my rep left the Peace Corps) - my group accepted and now I am officially on the VAC Committee.  I hope to help clarify issues from both sides of the table because there is huge disconnect between staff and volunteers right now.

I was hoping to sit down with Shiphrah, my program manager, to talk about my lack of work at Kuluva.  Unfortunately, she decided to take her annual leave during our conference, so I didn't get to see her.  I did speak with Cotious, her assistant, who told me that the volunteers placed at nursing schools were supposed to work part-time at the school and part-time at the hospital.  I informed her that the school is completely unaware of this and we will have to sit down with Sister Anne and explain that I should be working at the hospital too.  (*This meeting may not happen until December or January with all of the upcoming travel plans and holidays.)

After all the Peace Corps sessions were finished, we rightfully took advantage of the bar and swimming pool to celebrate our one year of service . . . and November birthdays.

The 32-year olds of the group.  
We celebrated our 33rd birthdays, Katie - November 8th, Brian - December 11th, 
and me - November 14th.

Since Katie's birthday was actually during our Mid-Service Conference, she requested an 80's dance party that night.  DONE!!  We rocked out to The Bangles, INXS, Michael Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Madonna, and just about every other one-hit-wonder from the 80's.

"I wear my sunglasses at night . . . " 

"Billie Jean"


  1. Looks like you guys had lots of fun celebrating your birthdays! It's good to see you having some fun with your peers! Love ya

  2. Hi Laura,
    All in all, it sounds like your mid-service conference was very positive. Besides getting to hang out with your group (and celebrate birthdays!) you got good information from the RPCV's and also found out you should be working at the hospital at least part-time. Maybe that will happen and work will become more interesting for you. Also, your appointment to the Volunteer Action Committee should be very interesting and beneficial to your group. Your second year looks to be very busy -- especially with all your travel plans. We miss you very much -- have a Happy Birthday on Wednesday! Love, Mom
    P.S. I concur with the man on the bus and would like to thank you for electing Obama to a second term!

  3. Happy Birthday Laura!! Can't believe you're 33!! Can't believe you're in Africa!! Can't believe how amazing you are!! Just kidding...I actually believe it all but it is SO AWESOME! I brag about you all the time. :) I'll be very interested in hearing about your next steps...grad school, then who knows? I'm living vicariously through you! Enjoy your last birthday as a PCV in Africa and GO-BAMA!! It's great to hear true stories about how our re-election of President Obama is received around the world vs what the corporate media in the U.S. would like you to believe. Keep sharing the truth. Love you, Aunt Lynn

  4. Wishing u a super birthday month:) You are having a fun time in those pictures and things are coming together for you~so happy! Wishing you a wonderful year and hope all your grad school plans fall into place:)Love you!